Commentary & Analysis

Outside-the-Box Voting Reform in the Bay Area

In 2020, CES opened up our first ever Request for Proposals for groups seeking grants to run approval voting campaigns. This article is part of a series in which RFP applicants introduce themselves and explain why their community needs approval voting.

Author: Alan Savage, SF Bay Area Approves

I’m a math guy. I like data, and I like using that data to make more rational decisions. And that’s why I love approval voting. It’s a simple, mathematically-sound solution for fixing our broken elections.

Living in the Bay Area, I’m surrounded by so many smart, creative, and forward-thinking people. People who love to experiment and who are always looking for outside-the-box solutions to daily problems. And that’s probably part of the reason that San Francisco was one of the first major cities to adopt ranked choice voting. They saw an outside-the-box solution and weren’t afraid to try it.

But I know that approval voting is what the people here deserve. It’s simple, elegant, and transparent. It doesn’t become overly-complicated or break down when you have dozens of candidates in a race. In fact, approval voting thrives in races with lots of candidates.

Like I said, I’m a numbers guy. And here are the numbers: over 6 million people live in the Bay Area. And this area encompasses over 101 municipalities.

How many of those 6 million people living in 101 municipalities know about approval voting? I’d wager relatively few!

But how many of them would tell their neighbors, call their legislators, and vote for approval voting if they knew about it? I believe that if people in the Bay Area knew about approval voting, they would be knocking down the door to get it adopted in their city. 

Like I said, we’re a unique bunch. We love finding solutions to problems that people didn’t even know they had, and we absolutely love to be in the vanguard. Approval voting is the vanguard of voting reform. 

That’s why I decided to work together with a group of fellow Bay Area residents to start advocating for approval voting here. We want to spark a movement that could sweep the dozens of cities in the area—if only people knew about it. 

With some seed funding from The Center for Election Science, I’m confident that we can build a movement and empower millions of people in Bay Area cities with better elections.

Alan Savage
SF Bay Area Approves

Join your local approval voting chapter:

CES wants to fund as many of these approval voting campaign proposals as possible in 2021. But that all depends on how much funding we’re able to bring in before the end of the year. Want to make sure the Bay Area can be in the vanguard of the voting reform movement? Make your gift today to empower these local advocates.